My Favorite Wife (1940, Garson Kanin)

Garson Kanin would quit directing during WWII, went on to write Adam’s Rib and Born Yesterday. Written by the Spewack family (Kiss Me Kate) with help from producer Leo McCarey (Ruggles of Red Gap, The Awful Truth). Shot by Rudolph Maté (who’d later direct D.O.A.) and edited by Robert Wise (who’d direct Day The Earth Stood Still, The Haunting and West Side Story). That’s altogether too much talent for one light comedy to stand! It holds up just fine, though

Three years after The Awful Truth, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne again play a couple in trouble. This time it’s not simple divorce proceedings – she has been missing for years, stranded on an island with hunky Randolph Scott (a year before Western Union), and Grant has just declared her legally dead so he can marry young Gail Patrick (the bad sister in My Man Godfrey). But it’s clear from the beginning that Dunne and Grant need to end up back together since, first of all they have kids and this is the 40’s, and secondly Randolph and Gail are never taken seriously by the movie, as romantic mates or anything else. And so that’s what happens, and I suppose Randolph and Gail end up together but I can’t remember for sure. Ends with a bonkers scene, Grant trying to sleep on a broken cot in the attic before he gives up and comes down to join his wife. Something about male stubbornness I guess.

Wikipedia calls it screwball but I think that word is tossed around too much. Bosley Crowther at the Times was in a weird mood, calling it “a frankly fanciful farce, a rondo of refined ribaldries,” also giving thumbs-up to Granville Bates as the judge in two major scenes. Remade with Doris Day and James Garner in the 60’s.